Anagallis monelli – Shrubby Pimpernel

Phylum: Magnoliophyta – Class: Equisetopsida – Order: Primulales – Family: Primulaceae

This lovely deep blue-to-purple flower is related to the Scarlet Pimpernel, Anagallis arvensis, with which we are so familiar in Britain and Ireland and which can also, confusingly, occur in a blue-flowered form.

Description

This low-growing shrubby branching perennial has opposite or whorled oval or lanceolate leaves on round-sectioned stems. As well as the common blue form shown here, red, pink and white colour variants of this species also occur.

The flowers, which have five unlobed petals, can form mats so dense that te leaves are all but obscured.

Distribution

Shrubby Pimpernel is a native of the Iberian Peninsula, Sardinia, Sicily and North Africa and appears in rather dry habitats such as stable sand dunes and banks but can sometimes be found in open woodland too.

Habitat

Ribbons and large patches of Shrubby Pimpernel are wonderful sights on dry roadside verges and the banks of steep-sided cuttings. This wildflower also grows in colourful clumps in coastal garrigue habitats such as the wonderfully diverse pin-cushion floral landscape along the cliff tops at Cape St Vincent, in the southwest corner of Portugal.

A member of the Primrose family (Primulaceae), the flowers can sometimes be red or pink, and Shrubby Pimpernel is frequently encouraged as a garden plant.

Blooming Times

In the wild Shrubby Pimpernel forms dense mats of glorious blue flowers from March to June.

Etymology

The genus name Anagallis comes from Greek and means ‘to delight again’ – a reference to the daily reopening of the flowers whenever the sun shines. Carl Linnaeus, who described this pant scientifically, gave it the specific epithet monellii to honour French horticuturalist Jean Monelle, who had introduced this plant to Linnaeus’s native Sweden.

Similar Species

In its less common blue form, Scarlet Pimpernel Anagallis arvensis is similar to Shrubby Pimpernel, but the flowers are smaller and its annual plants not shrubby.

The specimens shown on this page were photographed in the Algarve region of southern Portugal during April and May.

We hope that you have found this information helpful. If so we are sure you would also enjoy our books about Algarve wildlife and wildflowers. Buy them online here…

Plant Finder

Angie Blue Pimpernel flowers

Angie Blue Pimpernel flowers

(Photo courtesy of NetPS Plant Finder)

Height: 12 inches

Spread: 12 inches

Sunlight:

Hardiness Zone: 8b

Other Names: Flax Leaf Pimpernel, Mediterranean Pimpernel

Description:

This variety shows off with one of the brightest, truest blues in nature; stunning blue star flowers from spring until fall on a nicely mounded plant; excellent for containers and baskets

Ornamental Features

Angie Blue Pimpernel is bathed in stunning blue star-shaped flowers with hot pink eyes and yellow anthers along the stems from early spring to mid fall. Its pointy leaves remain grayish green in color throughout the season. The fruit is not ornamentally significant.

Landscape Attributes

Angie Blue Pimpernel is an herbaceous perennial with a mounded form. Its medium texture blends into the garden, but can always be balanced by a couple of finer or coarser plants for an effective composition.

This is a relatively low maintenance plant, and should be cut back in late fall in preparation for winter. It is a good choice for attracting bees and butterflies to your yard. It has no significant negative characteristics.

Angie Blue Pimpernel is recommended for the following landscape applications;

  • Accent
  • General Garden Use
  • Container Planting
  • Hanging Baskets

Planting & Growing

Angie Blue Pimpernel will grow to be about 12 inches tall at maturity, with a spread of 12 inches. Its foliage tends to remain dense right to the ground, not requiring facer plants in front. It grows at a fast rate, and under ideal conditions can be expected to live for approximately 5 years.

This plant does best in full sun to partial shade. It does best in average to evenly moist conditions, but will not tolerate standing water. It is not particular as to soil type or pH. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments. This is a selected variety of a species not originally from North America, and parts of it are known to be toxic to humans and animals, so care should be exercised in planting it around children and pets.

Angie Blue Pimpernel is a fine choice for the garden, but it is also a good selection for planting in outdoor containers and hanging baskets. It is often used as a ‘filler’ in the ‘spiller-thriller-filler’ container combination, providing a mass of flowers against which the thriller plants stand out. Note that when growing plants in outdoor containers and baskets, they may require more frequent waterings than they would in the yard or garden.

This plant is not reliably hardy in our region, please use with caution in areas where hardiness is a factor.

Pimpernel Seeds – Anagallis Arvensis Caerulea Ground Cover Seed

Groundcover Specifications

Season: Annual

USDA Zones: 5 – 10

Height: 6 inches

Width: 12 inches

Bloom Season: All summer

Bloom Color: Blue

Growth Rate: Fast

Environment: Full sun

Soil Type: Well drained moist soil, pH 5.5 to 7.5

Deer Resistant: Yes

Planting Directions

Temperature: 55 – 70F

Average Germ Time: 30 – 42 days

Light Required: Yes

Depth: Surface sow seed and light cover with no more than 1/8 inch topsoil

Sowing Rate: 3 – 4 seeds per plant or 5000 seeds covers 100 square feet

Moisture: Keep seeds moist until germination

Plant Spacing: 12 inches

Note: For detailed directions for indoor and outdoor planting, please

Care & Maintenance: Pimpernel

Pimpernel (Anagallis Arvensis Caerulea) – This unusual little plant is originally from Europe. Known as Blue Pimpernel, it has a spreading habit which makes it well-suited for edging a border, as a general ground cover plant, and in pots and hanging baskets. The Blue Pimpernel flower is open only when the sun shines. The habit of closing in dull weather and when rain is approaching has given the plant the name Poor Man’s Weather-Glass. This caerulea variety of Anagallis is not as famous as Scarlet Pimpernel, but you cannot go wrong with adding this blue version to your flower garden. The Blue Pimpernel plant establishes easily and quickly grows and spreads to produce nice ground cover plants.

How To Grow Blue Pimpernel: Sow Pimpernel seeds in peat pots and gently press the ground cover seed into soil and barely cover. Pimpernel seeds need light to germinate. You can also directly sow Anagallis Arvensis seeds after all danger of frost has passed in groups of 3 – 4 seeds spaced 12 inches apart. Thin to the strongest plant. If consumed, Pimpernel ground cover plants can be toxic to livestock and humans.

Blue Pimpernel grows on the roadside in waste places and on the dry sandy edges of corn and other fields; it is widely distributed throughout the world, being found in all the temperate regions in both hemispheres. Its creeping, square stems, a foot in length at most, have their eggshaped, stalkless leaves arranged in pairs. The edges of the leaves are entire (i.e. quite free from indentations of any sort), and in whatever direction the stem may run, either along the ground, or at an angle to it, the leaves always keep their faces turned to the light. A choice plant for hanging baskets and patio containers, where the intensely deep blue flowers can be fully appreciated. As the alternative names of shepherd’s sundial and shepherd’s weather-glass suggest, blue pimpernel is well-known for its ability to indicate both the weather and the time of day. The small, bright blue flowers open at around 8 am each day, and close at 3 pm. They also close during humid or damp weather. As the petals are only brilliantly coloured on their upper faces, the flowers when closed disappear from view among the greenness of the leaves.

Last fall we planted Anagallis monellii “Blue Pimpernel” in a bed of mixed flowers and herbs. This plant is neither edible or medicinal, but we hoped the bees would like its many blue flowers. Anagallis monellii is a Mediterranean native, so it is well suited to the California climate, and it follows that it does not need much water. It is perennial in zones 9 to 11 (that’s us), but can be grown as an annual elsewhere.

If you see Anagallis monellii without blooms, it is not much to look at. It’s a rangy, low-slung plant with uninteresting foliage. What it excels at is blooming. I believe it comes in a few colors, but “Blue Pimpernel” makes 1″ flowers in a rich gentian blue with magenta eyes, and it makes lots and lots and lots of them, so much so that you can’t even see the foliage through the flowers. It’s insanely tough and cheerful, and the blue contrasts well with our profusion of volunteer California poppies and Calendula.

Basic factoids: Grows about 10″ tall and spreads up to 20″, low water, likes rich soil, blooms most in full sun, can be propagated from seed, self-sows. It blooms for a long time–spring through fall, in frosty climates, that is. We’ll see what it does here in the winter. We bought ours as seedlings from Annie’s Annuals, which is pricey but worth it, because the plants are beautiful, impeccably shipped, and never root bound!

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Blue Pimpernel Seeds

Sowing: To start the seeds indoors, sow in a flat on the surface of the soil; keep the soil moist and at a temperature of 65-70 degrees F until germination. Germination usually takes place within 20-30 days. When the seedlings grow big enough to handle safely and there is no chance of frost, transplant them. To direct sow, plant the seeds on the surface of the soil after the last frost; place 3-4 seeds together in a group, and thin to the strongest seedling.

Growing: Water if the soil dries out but do not over water, since this can cause root rot and other diseases. Because of its abundant flowers and tidy growth, this plant grows well in containers or hanging baskets, in rock gardens, or as a border; it will continue blooming until frost. To survive the winter, these plants must be brought indoors or kept at a temperature no lower than 45 degrees F. This flower attracts hummingbirds, butterflies, and bees.

Harvesting: Blue Pimpernel can be toxic even in small amounts, and is not recommended for medicinal or culinary use.

Seed Saving: These plants produce seed for most of the summer, since they bloom from spring to fall. When the flowers fade, seed pods will form. Since the pods split and drop their seeds when completely ripe, the pods should be gathered individually as soon as they begin to dry. Before harvesting, check the pods to make sure the seeds have reached their mature dark brown or black color. Spread the seed pods out to finish drying away from direct sunlight; thresh them to remove the seed. Store the seed in a cool, dry place for 8 years.

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